Custom Membrane Switch Backlighting Options

Adding backlighting to a membrane switch design provides a number of advantages. It makes it easier for users to interact with the membrane switch. Backlighting can also be used to draw attention to a specific area of the membrane switch or to improve visibility in low-lighting environments.

It has a variety of applications from remote controls to airplane dashboards to consumer applications. Depending on your application needs, there are several backlighting options available, each offering their own set of benefits. Popular choices include: Light Guide Film (LGF), Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Electroluminescent (EL) lighting, or Fiber Optic lighting.

LGF lighting enables uniform lighting across membrane switches

Light Guide Film (LGF) is a thin film that incorporates small dots pressed into the backlit area. Side fire LEDs are placed at strategic cutouts in the film. These LEDs direct the light evenly across the membrane switch. LGF lighting can be more expensive, but it can use multiple colors to evenly light a large area. This makes it very useful for battery lights, sensors, and other status indicators.

Advantages of Light Guide Film:

  • Manufactured in almost any shape
  • Very thin for smaller, lighter devices
  • Minimal impact on the tactility of the membrane switch buttons
  • Uniform backlighting across all areas

LEDs provide reliable and efficient membrane switch backlighting

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the most popular choice for backlighting because of their large amount of applications and typically low cost. They are most useful for surfaces that are constantly lit or are energy efficient because of the low power consumption. You can usually find LEDs in indicator lights as well as keys, icons, and symbols on membrane switches. They play a large role in the medical industry, as well as many others.

Advantages of Light Emitting Diodes:

  • Long life (more than 100,000 hours), making it a reliable light source
  • Cost-effective
  • Efficient low voltage power consumption
  • Available in a wide variety of colors and intensities

Electroluminescent (EL) lighting offers power-saving option for backlighting

EL lighting converts electrical energy directly into light energy using phosphors. Because the phosphors tend to decay when used for long periods of time, this lighting is best suited for applications where the backlight will not always be on. It also requires the use of a DC/AC power inverter.

Advantages of Electroluminescent lighting:

  • Even, balanced backlighting of switch area
  • Durable and able to work for most switch constructions
  • available in a variety of colors

Fiber Optic lighting creates resilient membrane switch construction

Fiber Optic lighting uses layers of rectangular fiber-optic cloth. Fibers on one end of the cloth are bundled into together in a ferrule and paired with another light source, usually LEDs. This method of lighting evenly distributes the light from the LEDs throughout the entire surface area.

Advantages of Fiber Optic Lighting:

  • Long life because of the usage of LEDs, usually 100,000 hours
  • Low power-consumption
  • Uniform light intensity across entire graphic area
  • No emitted heat or electromagnetic interference
  • Durable enough to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, and other rugged conditions.

Contact Dyna-Graphics for Custom Membrane Switch Backlighting

For nearly four decades, Dyna-Graphics has provided durable, high performance membrane switch technology for a broad variety of industries and applications. Find out more information about our custom membrane switches here.

If you’re unsure of what backlighting technology is right for your membrane switches, contact Dyna-Graphics to learn more or find a local representative.
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